We couldn’t even make it a day into the New Year before a misguided minority turned a top night of sporting action sour.
We’d like to think we’re making a more concerted effort towards appreciating the disastrous consequences that poor mental health can lead to. But after seeing pockets of pissed-up fans, the ones who have no genuine love for the sport they’re watching, dish out all kinds of abuse already, or the cowards on Twitter, hiding behind their computers doing likewise, we know that’s probably all bollocks.
- Gerwyn Price Stunned By Gabriel Clemens
- Betfred's Word Darts Championship Odds*
On Sunday night at the World Darts Championship, pantomime villain Gerwyn Price, after a night of abuse at the oche, resorted to drastic measures to drown out his critics. The Welshman’s choice to return to the stage for the fifth set wearing noise-cancelling headphones was met with derision both at Alexandra Palace and across social media platforms. The fact he would go on to lose to Gabriel Clemens in their quarter-final meant that that derision quickly turned to humiliation.
Price has never really done anything to endear himself to crowds on the darts circuit; big, brash and with a commitment to playing the heel that would make Triple H blush, he’s an easy target. But just because someone has committed to playing the role of bad guy in their sport, it doesn’t make it fair to criticise them to the point that they no longer want to do their job.
Following the defeat, Price deleted all social media posts on Instagram, and before he did that he posted a message saying that he may never play at the World Darts Championship again.
“So frustrating you play all year round preparing for this one tournament. So gutted I wasn’t let play but good luck everyone left in. Not sure I will ever play in this event again.”
Sport, especially darts, needs these characters and it would be a crying shame to lose one.
Was Price right to turn up in headphones bigger than Ally Pally itself? Probably not. Does the fact that he regularly goads the crowd bring him more vitriol than his peers? Definitely. Does that mean we have the right to mock a fellow human being to the point of hiding one day into the New Year? Absolutely not.
In fact, everyone I’ve spoken to who has met the former rugby union player has told me he’s an absolutely lovely person away from the dartboard, and always has time for fans.
It smacks of hypocrisy. “New Year, new me. I’m going to quit smoking this year because I want to be a better person. But I’m also going to act like a grade-A bellend because there’s this darts player I don’t like and I especially don’t like that he’s wearing headphones.”
I’m not saying that sport stars shouldn’t be able to face a little bit of heat from paying fans, or even sometimes on social media, but there’s a big difference between frivolous banter and full-blown pile-on.
Be kind, sports fans, or we’ve got a long year ahead of us.
*18+ | BeGambleAware